Monday, January 28, 2013

STH activities - with the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Program (component 'C' - W Bengal) team in Darjeeling district (25-27Jan2013)

W Bengal is one of the 6 states chosen as a part of a nation wide study by National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP) to develop at long term strategies for disaster risk reduction.
7 members of  NCRMP (component 'C'), W. Bengal, team visited Darjeeling district between 25-27Jan2013 and STH was very much involved in organizing the teams field visits to  landslide affected villages of Balasun and Chibo-Pashyor and the conduct of their survey there. 4 young members from the STH were actively associated the  survey of landslide affected communities and it was a wonderful learning process for both the NCRMP team and us.
My thanks tof the team the entire NCRMP team and also to Fr Valentine of Anugyalaya and Mr Bharat Prakash Rai of FOSEP.

Praful Rao

Friday, January 18, 2013

Bhamey Gaon (Sindebung, Kalimpong) - a village where homes disappear


1. The landslides at Bhamey Gaon (N 27°04.136’, E 088°29.626’, elevation 919m) at Sindebung, in Kalimpong have been featured many times on this blog earlier mainly because
a) This landslide if ignored for much longer would impact the stability of Kalimpong town itself (see top image)
b) Something can still be done here to arrest the decay and devastation and the landslide situation is not hopelessly out of control, like in many other areas of the Darjeeling district (eg Balasun, Chibo/Pashyor, and Samalbung).
c) The rural community of this area have suffered in silence for decades despite the many visits by politicians, engineers, geologists, media, scientists and the much touted "paradigm shift" towards disaster prevention and preparedness which has yet to see the light of day in this village.
2. The following persons have lost their land, property, homes and moved elsewhere with their families :-
i)     Shri DS Bhujel
ii)    Shri KB Sundas
iii)   Shri BB Bhujel
iv)   Shri TB Thapa
v)    Shri TB Bhujel
vi)   Shri Gopal Chhetri
vii)  Shri Shiv Kr Bhujel
viii) Shri HB Bhujel
ix)   Shri Ganga Ram Sundas
3. The following persons will lose their land and homes in the foreseeable future
i)    Shri BirBahadur Biswakarma - by Sep2013.
ii)   Shri Shyam Bhujel - within 5yrs.
iii)  Shri Dirga Bahadur Bhujel - within 5yrs.
iv)  Shri RB Bhujel - within 5yrs.
v)   Shri  RB Biswakarma - within 5yrs.
vi)  Shri Sanjay Bhujel
vii) Shri Dilip Bhujel
viii) Shrimati Remina Pradhan
3. This highlights perhaps the most striking difference between landslides and most other forms of disaster
- that after floods and even earthquakes, the victims or survivors can still return to their land and start the painful progress of rebuilding......
- in the case of landslides, the victim or survivor has nothing left to return to because the land itself and everything on it is gone.
Praful Rao

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Upcoming events : Workshop on 'Climate change and its effects on hydropower, water and development in the Eastern Himalayas’ - 22Jan2013 at Kalimpong

Tentative Program

1. 0930 to 10:00h : Arrival of invitees. Informal introductions over tea/ coffee.
Session I
2. 10.00 – 10:45h : Hydro-power on the Teesta River. A local perspective: 20 min by local activist/spokesperson.
Overview by the project team of field visits to Teesta Lo Dam Stage III at  27th Mile and discussions with PFAs at Gail Khola and 29th Mile (on 21Jan2013) - 10min each.
Dr Jessica Budds, Lecturer in Environment & Development, Univ of  Reading (UK) ; Dr Vimal Khawas, Asst Prof School of Policy Planning and Studies, Sikkim Univ will jointly present academic perspectives and interests followed by NGO perspectives by Mr KJ Joy and Partha Das
3. 10:45 to 11:30h : Open discussions
Session II
4. 11:45-14:00h : Dams or hydropower in the Himalayas - brief Introduction by Dr Deepa Joshi, Asst Prof, Irrigation and Water Engineering Group, Wageningen Univ, The Netherlands.
Workshop is being jointly organized by Wageningen University, The Netherlands and other academic institutions in India and Nepal.
Venue : Park Hotel

Praful Rao

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

In the year's beginning - a sombre warning

  • Delhi has never been so bone-chillingly cold as it is today. At 9.8 degrees Celsius, the maximum temperature in the (Indian) Capital is the lowest in 44 years.
    - NDTV (02Jan2013).
  • Researchers have found that India’s monsoonal rainfall, upon which much of the nation’s agriculture depends, is becoming less frequent and more intense.
    Scientists with the agriculture division of the India Meteorological Department in Pune found that global climate change can cause departures from the historic monsoonal norm, which, on balance would lead to lower yields of rice, maize, cotton, soybeans, and other kharif (monsoonal) crops. During the rabi (dry) season, higher temperatures could cut yields of wheat, potatoes, and vegetables.
    - National Geographic (06Mar2012)
  • Kalimpong (Dist Darjeeling, India), in Sep2012, received 84% of the monthly rainfall in just one week (10-17Sep2012) with the remaining 3 weeks being largely dry.
    - STH blog.
  • In the Darjeeling - Sikkim Himalaya, we have not had any significant  precipitation (rain/snow) during the winter months for the last 3-4 years and what we are seeing are drought-like conditions for 7months of the year (Oct-Apr) followed by 5 months (May-Sep) of erratic rainfall. As such, looming ahead is a severe water crisis in this region.
    - Observation made locally.
  • Also rainfall patterns have changed in the Darjeeling - Sikkim Himalaya , with the continuous, gentle drizzle which so characterized the monsoons in the hills, being replaced by sharper and more intense downpours.(This sort of gels with the findings of researchers in the National Geographic report above).
    Sharp, intense rainfall generates higher volumes of surface runoffs and consequently more erosion and landslides.
    Increased surface runoff also means the underwater aquifers do not get time to be recharged and mountain springs are drying up like never before all along the Himalaya.
    - Observation made locally.
  • Weather extremes are not that extreme any more. Heatwaves, floods, droughts and wildfires are the new reality of an ever warming world
     -The Guardian (19Sep2012)
  • The first nine months of 2012 were the hottest in the United States on record.
    - Washington Post (30Oct2012)
  • 3 of the ten biggest floods in Lower Manhattan since1900 occurred in the last three years… Freak weather seems to be here to stay all over the globe.
    - Fareed Zakaria GPS (CNN, Nov2012,).
  • The likelihood of such extreme weather events is increasingly being tied to anthropogenic—or manmade, mostly through overproduction of carbon dioxide—global warming. It’s no longer an abstract idea; it’s being experienced directly and locally, on nearly every level.
    - Storm warnings : Climate Change and Extreme weather (Scientific American, 13Nov2012)
  • Researchers know that tropical storms derive their energy from warm waters. That's one reason hurricanes are much more common in the hot tropics. The Atlantic Ocean is about 1°C warmer on average than it was a century ago, in part because of man-made climate change. Warmer waters generally mean stronger storms, and indeed, scientists have agreed that climate change seems likely to lead to stronger and wetter storms, though possibly fewer of them.
    - Time Magazine (Nov2012)
  • Climate change has caused sea levels to rise, which made the storm surges and coastal flooding all the more devastating. Overall sea levels have risen by 8 in. (20 cm), and the rate has been accelerating recently.
    - Time Magazine (Nov2012)
  • We have a 100-year flood every two years now. We need to make sure that if there is weather like this, we are more prepared and protected than we have been before.
    -Time Magazine (Nov2012).

    Praful Rao